The Government Is Considering Graduated Driving Licenses

The government is deliberating on whether to introduce graduated driving licenses. These would restrict new motorists on when they could drive…

MPs Consider Graduated Driving Licenses 

The Transport Committee, a cross-party group of MPs who advice and scrutinise the Department for Transport, is weighing up the pros and cons of graduated driving licenses (GDLs). It’s holding an evidence session on September 2nd, where it will attempt to determine why younger drivers are at a heightened risk of accidents. It’ll also consider options in improving their safety. The Committee will hear the views of a variety of road safety experts and campaigners. One of them is Dr Neale Kinnear, who believes graduated licenses could save the government up to £200 million a year.

GDLs would essentially place restrictions on younger, and perhaps less experienced, drivers. These could include restricting their driving in the evening and early morning. It might also affect how many passengers they can travel with; not to mention which cars could be driven in the first place. There are also discussions about learner drivers having to spend a given number of hours on the road before attempting the Practical Driving Test.

Young and Vulnerable 

As it stands, young drivers are the most at risk of having an accident in the UK. Specifically, motorists aged between 17 and 24 are at the highest risk of death or serious injury. The rates of both fell until the year 2012 and, since then, have effectively plateaued. The age bracket accounts for just 1.5% of all license holders and yet are involved in nearly a tenth of all accidents. Moreover, a quarter of drivers aged between 18 and 24 will experience an accident within two years of passing their test.

The Committee’s investigation in September won’t be the first time GDLs have been seriously considered. Back in 2019, the DfT announced it’d consider a national rollout of the concept. Historically, politicians have considered them to be too harsh or restrictive. But, following successful trials in Sweden, New Zealand and some Australian states, some are becoming more receptive. Earlier still in 2018, then Roads Minister Jesse Norman wrote, ‘the Department for Transport has decided to use the introduction of GDL in Northern Ireland as a pilot; to gather evidence on the potential for GDL in Great Britain’.

Michael Ellis, the road safety minister, summarised the Committee’s investigation. He said, “we want to explore in greater detail how graduated driver licensing, or aspects of it, can help new drivers to stay safe and reduce the number of people killed or injured on our roads”.

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